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Boundary Disputes: Frequent Questions

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 5 Nov 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Neighbour Boundary Dispute Trees Fence

We often hear about boundary disputes between neighbours, and it’s a very contentious area which is often the subject of litigation.

What is a Boundary and How is it Defined?

A boundary between your property and your neighbours (or indeed council and common land) is usually set out in the earliest conveyance deed or transfer deed that refers to the land. If you own the house, you should have been given a copy of the deeds when you bought the property.

The deeds show the boundaries of the land that the person who sold the property to you was intending to sell. The description could be written into the deeds, or most usually described by a visual plan of the land.

Sometimes the plan and the wording of the deeds might differ, but this problem can usually be resolved. Reading the deeds and looking at the plan will give you an indication of which takes precedence, and if it’s not obvious, a solicitor can usually help.

If either the conveyance plan or the words in the deed are obviously inaccurate, this can cause problems, too. If you have any questions, a solicitor can usually help, although in some cases these cases have to be resolved in court.

Establishing Rights Over Hedges and Fences can often be the source of bad feeling between otherwise friendly neighbours.

Can I Paint my Neighbours Fence?

If you want to change anything about a fence that legally belongs to your neighbour, you should ask their permission first – even if you’re only painting or staining your side of the fence.

Your neighbour is perfectly within his or her rights to tell you that he doesn’t want you to paint the fence, even if in your opinion in sorely needs some tidying up. It could be classed as criminal damage if you were to carry on regardless.

Can I Force My Neighbour to repair a Damaged Fence?

Not usually, unless there is some kind of covenant on his property that forces the issue. If the state of his fence is bothering you or causing security issues, there is no reason why you shouldn’t erect a fence of your own next to it.

You could offer to pay for the repairs yourself, if the neighbour simply can’t afford the repairs. If you do this, be sure to put the offer in writing and say that fence is a gift which doesn’t affect the boundary position at all. Keep a copy of your letter with the title deeds, to avoid any boundary confusion in the future.

If you put your own fence up on your own land, you need to be careful not to damage any of your neighbour's property, and make sure it fits in with all the relevant planning permission and byelaws.

Overhanging Trees

Another contentious area between neighbours is the problem of overhanging trees and Ascertaining Your Rights. What seemed like an average sized tree when you moved in could become a nuisance if it grows tall enough to block out your light, and this could mean that you have problems with your own garden as well as reducing the light in the house. You can’t do much about it until the trees start to encroach onto your land, though.

What to Do About Nuisance Trees

If the branches or roots of your neighbour's trees are starting to encroach onto your own land, you are allowed to trim them back to your own boundary.

You don’t have to tell your neighbour that you’re doing this, although you do have to tell them if you need to gain Access To Their Land. Contrary to popular belief, you can also trim a tree that’s subject to a preservation order, although you should get permission from your local authority first.

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We are currently having a joint wall and fence erected on our boundary wall paid for by both us and our neighbour. The neighbour wants the gap between batons on the fence a certain width, to match another fence they have which leaves little privacy. We would like to put batons on our side of the fence which would effectively fill in the gaps. Is this something we can do? Thanks
M - 5-Nov-18 @ 10:55 AM
Our next door neighbour has removed our chain link boundary fence without our permission. We have erected a wooden fence within our boundary covering the majority of the garden but there is a strip of some 5 metresbetween a side gateand shed where our oil tank used to sit.We now use this to store bins and garden tools etc but because he has removed the chain link stuff keeps falling onto his property which has made him very angry and abusive.Can we force him to re-instate the chain link as it was ours in the first place
gloworm53 - 1-Nov-18 @ 12:08 PM
marthamonkey - Your Question:
I bought a new fence last year and it was treated with stuff to maintain and protect it for the next 25 years.New neighbours next door have painted it their side even though its 2 inches within our border. Are they allowed to do this. they never even asked us if they could do this.

Our Response:
No, if it's your fence, your neighbour cannot attach anything to it or paint it.
ProblemNeighbours - 12-Sep-18 @ 10:41 AM
I bought a new fence last year and it was treated with stuff to maintain and protect it for the next 25 years.New neighbours next door have painted it their side even though its 2 inches within our border. Are they allowed to do this. they never even asked us if they could do this.
marthamonkey - 4-Sep-18 @ 5:05 PM
My new neighbour asked me to replace a fence i am responsible for and split the cost. I advised him that i couldn't afford this at the moment.He went ahead and got quotes and kept asking me over and over again for the money - I kept telling him i could not afford to replace the fence.During this time he has taken down the fence panel's and trellis and has damaged a lot of climbing plants. He didn't ask me for permission to do this. The concrete posts are still up but as they are not 100% straight couldn't be used for the type of fence my neighbour wants ( yes he is even expecting to have the fence of his choice!)Ihave now planted a laurel hedge inside my boundary but to grow instead of a fence. It's all i could afford to do. I have attached solar lights to the posts until the hedge matures( primarily so i can see them in the dark when i am reversing off thd drive). If my neighbour now tries to remove the fence posts what can i do? I find him intimidating and l am a single parent. I Have very limited funds and could not afford legal fees to sort this out.
Jazz - 27-Aug-18 @ 4:10 PM
My neighbour has planted shrubs against my boundary wall and tree about four inches from the wall. What are the minimum distances for planting.
Baz - 23-Aug-18 @ 6:13 AM
n/a - Your Question:
I've recently purchased a terrace house which had a garage in the back garden which due to it being dangerous we had removed. My next door neighbour also has a garage that takes up almost all of their garden and which crosses my boundary. The neighbour is demanding that I have a fence erected in my garden because they paid a lot of money for and that it wasn't built for my benefit. Does this mean the wall is a party wall and am I duty bound to do as they say? Your advice will be really appreciated.

Our Response:
We don't know enough about your property and whether the garages were there when the property was built or not etc. Please check your title deeds to see if there is anything that refers to a garage or to responsibility for erection/maintenance of a fence.
ProblemNeighbours - 14-Aug-18 @ 11:14 AM
I've recently purchased a terrace house which had a garage in the back garden which due to it being dangerous we had removed.. My next door neighbour also has a garage that takes up almost all of their garden and which crosses my boundary. The neighbour is demanding that I have a fence erected in my garden because they paid a lot of money for and that it wasn't built for my benefit. Does this mean the wall is a party wall and am I duty bound to do as they say? Your advice will be reallyappreciated.
n/a - 13-Aug-18 @ 7:17 PM
Whitty - Your Question:
We have lived in our property for 51 years. There is a fence on the boundary which we have paid for and maintained.new neighbours have purchased the next door property and verbally expressed their intention to build an extension over the boundary as he claims our drive is a few inches wider then theirs.can he force us to allow this ? The previous owners who have died never mentioned this nor did the new owners before they bought the property. We have not been approached by a surveyor to measure our property. I am rather elderly and this is making me ill. As if they move the fence it will further impeded poor access to our garage which is already difficult to back out of.

Our Response:
This doesn't sound correct. If your fence has been there for all the 51 years you've lived there, it's likely that it's (a) in correct position on the boundary line or (b) yours by virtue of adverse possession (you would need to speek to solicitor for details of how to apply for adverse possession. Your neighbour sounds like a bit of bully, talk to Citizens' Advice for more individual help.
ProblemNeighbours - 10-Aug-18 @ 3:07 PM
We have lived in our property for 51 years. There is a fence on the boundary which we have paid for and maintained.new neighbours have purchased the next door property and verbally expressed their intention to build an extension over the boundary as he claims our drive is a few inches wider then theirs.can he force us to allow this ? The previous owners who have died never mentioned this nor did the new owners before they bought the property. We have not been approached by a surveyor to measure our property. I am rather elderly and this is making me ill. As if they move the fence it will further impeded poor access to our garage which is already difficult to back out of.
Whitty - 10-Aug-18 @ 9:03 AM
Elyshe - Your Question:
HelloI would be grateful for your help. I’ve just moved into a semi detached house. There is a boundary wall in the front of the house and my neighbour has decided to erect a sandstone ornament on the wall. I approached the neighbour gently to ask if he wouldn’t mind not putting it on the boundary wall. He advised the wall was his so he could do what he wanted. I’ve looked at my title plan and there is no reference to who owns the wall. I have gone back to my conveyancer who acted on my sale because in her notes when I was buying the property it says I’m jointly responsible for maintaining this boundary wall. I’d like to be able to prove that he needs my permission to put this ornament on the joint boundary, but I’m not sure how I go about proving this. Pls can someone help - this ornament is ghastly, large and soon to be cemented to the wall!Thanks

Our Response:
It's worth checking all the documents that are held with your deeds as the title plan itself might not show sufficient information. You can obtain the title deeds from HM Land Registry for a small fee.
ProblemNeighbours - 7-Aug-18 @ 10:27 AM
Hello I would be grateful for your help. I’ve just moved into a semi detached house. There is a boundary wall in the front of the house and my neighbour has decided to erect a sandstone ornament on the wall. I approached the neighbour gently to ask if he wouldn’t mind not putting it on the boundary wall. He advised the wall was his so he could do what he wanted. I’ve looked at my title plan and there is no reference to who owns the wall. I have gone back to my conveyancer who acted on my sale because in her notes when I was buying the property it says I’m jointly responsible for maintaining this boundary wall. I’d like to be able to prove that he needs my permission to put this ornament on the joint boundary, but I’m not sure how I go about proving this. Pls can someone help - this ornament is ghastly, large and soon to be cemented to the wall! Thanks
Elyshe - 5-Aug-18 @ 4:18 AM
monteiro - Your Question:
HiAbout green hedges removed.We lived in the same house for the past 13/14 years and always get along with both side neighbours.This until new ones have moved in one year ago and continuously ignoring good neighbour “etiquette”, we’ve not taking it into account has we been very spoiled with the previous ones.The question? Can my neighbours remove the green edge that separates our proprieties so they can have a wooden fence? When we moved both front and rear gardens were surrounded by green hedges that bounds the proprieties adjacent to ours. The houses were built in the 50 by the council and for what I understand the green hedges were planted to limit each house boundaries, all the houses in the area are more or less the same. Last week my new neighbour, knock on the door and said she was going to trim the green hedge on her side, so she could put a fence up. I could not disagree has a fence up actually would give us more privacy from them. This week got another knock on the door. They trimmed the hedge so thin it looks horrid, still they cannot put the posts for a fence, has she realized that the fence would not align with the line between the houses (that are semi-detached), she wants remove the entire hedge out, to rise up the wooden fence. We stated our dislike for that decision tried to discuss the negative impact it would have on us, on the surroundings and even on her. We thought she would come to her senses, but since then things kind escalated with her ex husband letting us know (in a non-delicate way) they will cut it down period.At this point he think is just a hedge, but also think this is not right. Got our land registry out, noticing on the plans nothing shows just a red and black line separating both proprieties.The schedule of restrictive Covenants says:” at all times hereafter to maintain the boundary wall hedges and fences by a T mark inward, on the plan, in a good substantial repair and condition to the satisfaction of the council and not to plant, build or erect any hedge, wall or fence other than of the type approved by the council.” Note: The T marks referred to affect the northern boundary of the land in this title.Th Northern line it’s my neighbours and the house is not been a council, one for 2 purchases ago.So I'm I interpreting this wrong? Can they just take the Hedge out having the T on their side? Can someone share some light please?

Our Response:
If the statement relating to the fences is a restrictive covenant it will probably continue through future owners and there is a probably a similar statement in your neighbour's deeds. If no hedge/wall or fence other than an approved type can be installed whoever benefits from the covenant could take action. Seek professional legal advice to get this resolved if you can't come to a mutually acceptable solution with your neighbour.
ProblemNeighbours - 24-Jul-18 @ 10:40 AM
My external wall of my kitchen is in neighbours garden and they have attached a lean too greenhouse to it. I now want access to the wall to repair and maintain and have been told if I want to do this I must move the greenhouse and put it back at a cost to me.A) is she allowed to do this anyway? B) what can I do to make her understand this is unreasonable behaviour. Any help greatly appreciated
Frustrated - 16-Jul-18 @ 12:42 AM
Birdy - Your Question:
Our neighbour has a Rottweiler next door. I just had my friends dog around playing in my garden and when the neighbours dog sniffs my friends dog the neighbours dog tries aggressively to head butt the fence and has caused quite some damage. We have a long garden and parts of the fence are not as secure and panels broken from the dog being aggressive.Today the dog tried to get through the fence and lifted up about 8 panels and his front half of his body was in our garden. Our neighbour recalled the dog but if he senses another dog in the garden he tries everything to enter the garden. The neighbour mentioned the damage once she recalled her dog from being sandwich between the fence panels and he went back into their garden but said it was because the sun has warped the fence and that’s caused the damage. However - all our other fence boundaries are in good condition. It’s blarently the dog sticking his head through panels aggressively head butting the fence that’s the issue but I think the neighbour is trying to dismiss liability. We only moved in earlier this year and would like to maintain a friendly relationship. How would we go about discussing this with out neighbour? The fence is 5 years old. The boundary is our responsibility therefore I don’t think there are many options as I believe it would be responsible for us to maintain but then this is always element of us paying for the fence and then damage occurring. We have two young neices and would like to keep them safe. Any advice would be great.

Our Response:
It is the dog owner's responsibility to keep the dog in their own property. Even if the boundary is your responsibility, this does not mean you must construct a fence of sufficient strength to contain an neighbour's dog. If the dog has damaged your fence you can claim for the damage from the dog owner.
ProblemNeighbours - 4-Jul-18 @ 3:28 PM
Our neighbour has a Rottweiler next door. I just had my friends dog around playing in my garden and when the neighbours dog sniffs my friends dog the neighbours dog tries aggressively to head butt the fence and has caused quite some damage. We have a long garden and parts of the fence are not as secure and panels broken from the dog being aggressive. Today the dog tried to get through the fence and lifted up about 8 panels and his front half of his body was in our garden. Our neighbour recalled the dog but if he senses another dog in the garden he tries everything to enter the garden. The neighbour mentioned the damage once she recalled her dog from being sandwich between the fence panels and he went back into their garden but said it was because the sun has warped the fence and that’s caused the damage. However - all our other fence boundaries are in good condition. It’s blarently the dog sticking his head through panels aggressively head butting the fence that’s the issue but I think the neighbour is trying to dismiss liability. We only moved in earlier this year and would like to maintain a friendly relationship. How would we go about discussing this with out neighbour? The fence is 5 years old. The boundary is our responsibility therefore I don’t think there are many options as I believe it would be responsible for us to maintain but then this is always element of us paying for the fence and then damage occurring. We have two young neices and would like to keep them safe. Any advice would be great...
Birdy - 3-Jul-18 @ 10:55 PM
Ming11 - Your Question:
My neighbour is re-doing his garden. We have an extension at the rear that runs along the boundary. The boundary is his. The neighbour has said he will build a tall new wall along the boundary at his expense. We initially agreed to this, but even though it is his boundary wall, he is starting to build the wall on our side of the boundary, attaching it to the corner of our extension.Since it is his wall in effect, by building it our side of the boundary, attached to our house, will that affect us when we try to sell our house in a couple of years? We are really concerned now!Thank you.

Our Response:
The wall should not be attached to your property unless that was how it was originally built. Similarly a boundary fence should usually be built on the boundary line or on the side of the fence owner. Unfortunately without more information we can't offer specific advice, so you might want to discuss this with a legal professional/surveyor etc.
ProblemNeighbours - 2-Jul-18 @ 12:55 PM
My neighbour is re-doing his garden. We have an extension at the rear that runs along the boundary. The boundary is his. The neighbour has said he will build a tall new wall along the boundary at his expense. We initially agreed to this, but even though it is his boundary wall, he is starting to build the wall on our side of the boundary, attaching it to the corner of our extension. Since it is his wall in effect, by building it our side of the boundary, attached to our house, will that affect us when we try to sell our house in a couple of years? We are really concerned now! Thank you.
Ming11 - 29-Jun-18 @ 9:50 AM
Green - Your Question:
The responsibility of a boundary fence belongs with both neighbours. Neighbour 1 put up a tall fence on their property, and the boundary fence was later removed by the deceased husband of Neighbour 2 (so Neighbour 1 could’ve given permission even).Neighbour 1 now requires Neighbour 2 to replace the section of the boundary fence that was removed without authority or permission and reinstate it to the original specifications using the same materials, and reminded them that removing any of their property with the intention of permanently depriving them of it is an offence.1) Is there a time frame that complaints about the removal of a shared fence must be made in?2) Do they have to put it back to the original specification bearing in mind the original fence was built more than 25 years ago3) How can a fence be put back onto the correct side of the concrete posts (which are still standing) when Neighbour 1's fence is now in the way?

Our Response:
There are no specific yes or no answers to your questions unfortunately. If two neighbours are jointly repsonsible for a boundary fence they are expected to work together/cooperate to maintain it etc. The property deeds may give some more detail on this but usually they simply refer to owners being jointly responsible. Mediation/alternative dispute resolution might be the best option here.
ProblemNeighbours - 19-Jun-18 @ 2:14 PM
The responsibility of a boundary fence belongs with both neighbours. Neighbour 1 put up a tall fence on their property, and the boundary fence was later removed by the deceased husband of Neighbour 2 (so Neighbour 1 could’ve given permission even). Neighbour 1 now requires Neighbour 2 to replace the section of the boundary fence that was removed without authority or permission and reinstate it to the original specifications using the same materials, and reminded them that removing any of their property with the intention of permanently depriving them of it is an offence. 1) Is there a time frame that complaints about the removal of a shared fence must be made in? 2) Do they have to put it back to the original specification bearing in mind the original fence was built more than 25 years ago 3) How can a fence be put back onto the correct side of the concrete posts (which are still standing) when Neighbour 1's fence is now in the way?
Green - 18-Jun-18 @ 2:31 PM
K - Your Question:
Hi, we got our boundary checked by a surveyour to see where we could put our gate on the side of our house between our house and my neighbours extension. No dispute or anything, we just needed the gate up. Do we need to tell buyers we had this checked even though our neighbours have no issue?

Our Response:
You could include the information on the sellers questionnaire for the benefit of the buyer if you decide to sell.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Jun-18 @ 2:44 PM
Hi, we got our boundary checked by a surveyour to see where we could put our gate on the side of our house between our house and my neighbours extension. No dispute or anything, we just needed the gate up.Do we need to tell buyers we had this checked even though our neighbours have no issue?
K - 5-Jun-18 @ 9:05 PM
My neighbour is often complaining about a holly tree at the end of our garden - we had it drastically cut back and he has permission to cut overhanging branches -he did and threw all the cuttings over to our garden stuck in between our shedand his garage wall without telling us - he’s now demanding again we get someone in to trim the branches (there are two) and we have this booked but he’s now insisting Amy damage to his garage roof we will need to pay for as last time it cost him £3k to fix (he’s an alcoholic and this figure keeps changing and he built the garage himself and I doubt it cost him that much to build it!).Again I’ve given him permission to cut the two branches before the tree guy can get there- as I’ve done this would I still be liable to damage by the branches? I don’t think they even touch his roof.Incidentally he built the garage taking down his garden wall (to our left) and we know have this large yellow garage as the wall instead of the lovely wall boundary that was there - could he have done this legally?We are the last of the neighbours that talk to him civilly but this is soon to stop!
Rozzie - 2-Jun-18 @ 9:30 AM
My neighbour is often complaining about a holly tree at the end of our garden - we had it drastically cut back and he has permission to cut overhanging branches -he did and threw all the cuttings over to our garden stuck in between our shedand his garage wall without telling us - he’s now demanding again we get someone in to trim the branches (there are two) and we have this booked but he’s now insisting Amy damage to his garage roof we will need to pay for as last time it cost him £3k to fix (he’s an alcoholic and this figure keeps changing and he built the garage himself and I doubt it cost him that much to build it!).Again I’ve given him permission to cut the two branches before the tree guy can get there- as I’ve done this would I still be liable to damage by the branches? I don’t think they even touch his roof.Incidentally he built the garage taking down his garden wall (to our left) and we know have this large yellow garage as the wall instead of the lovely wall boundary that was there - could he have done this legally?We are the last of the neighbours that talk to him civilly but this is soon to stop!
Rozzie - 31-May-18 @ 3:31 PM
My neighbour is often complaining about a holly tree at the end of our garden - we had it drastically cut back and he has permission to cut overhanging branches -he did and threw all the cuttings over to our garden stuck in between our shedand his garage wall without telling us - he’s now demanding again we get someone in to trim the branches (there are two) and we have this booked but he’s now insisting Amy damage to his garage roof we will need to pay for as last time it cost him £3k to fix (he’s an alcoholic and this figure keeps changing and he built the garage himself and I doubt it cost him that much to build it!).Again I’ve given him permission to cut the two branches before the tree guy can get there- as I’ve done this would I still be liable to damage by the branches? I don’t think they even touch his roof.Incidentally he built the garage taking down his garden wall (to our left) and we know have this large yellow garage as the wall instead of the lovely wall boundary that was there - could he have done this legally?We are the last of the neighbours that talk to him civilly but this is soon to stop!
Rozzie - 31-May-18 @ 11:27 AM
Jenny - Your Question:
Our neighbour has put up a new wooden fence but has not taken his old tatty wire fence down and metal posts which is an eyesore and leaning into our garden. We’ve asked him nicely if we could remove it but he said we can’t as it’s his boundary line and still his property! There’s about a foot gap, in between the two fences which have weeds etc. What are our rights please?

Our Response:
If it's the boundary fence - the neighbour doesn't have to remove it. Check your deeds to see if either resident is responsible for maintaining a fence on the boundary etc.
ProblemNeighbours - 14-May-18 @ 2:00 PM
Our neighbour has put up a new wooden fence but has not taken his old tatty wire fence down and metal posts which is an eyesore and leaning into our garden. We’ve asked him nicely if we could remove it but he said we can’t as it’s his boundary line and still his property! There’s about a foot gap, in between the two fences which have weeds etc. What are our rights please?
Jenny - 14-May-18 @ 8:01 AM
nigs - Your Question:
Hi, I am having problems with my neighbour parking on my driveway, it is an open/shared driveway but he parks at an angle so the nose of his car is well over on my side. We have discussed this and I have also given a copy of the original plans signed by the builder and 1st buyer to show that he is on my land, yet he continues to do so. He is retired and therefore is at home alot more than us and uses that as an opertunity to park on our side. I have run out of ideas of what to do now. Any ideas of what to do?

Our Response:
If you've tried everything else and this is causing your an incovenience, you could consider a private legal action. Many solicitors offer the first half hour consultation free of charge so shop around.
ProblemNeighbours - 4-May-18 @ 3:28 PM
Hi, I am having problems with my neighbour parking on my driveway, it is an open/shared driveway but he parks at an angle so the nose of his car is well over on my side. We have discussed this and I have also given a copy of the original plans signed by the builder and 1st buyer to show that he is on my land, yet he continues to do so. He is retired and therefore is at home alot more than us and uses that as an opertunity to park on our side. I have run out of ideas of what to do now. Any ideas of what to do?
nigs - 3-May-18 @ 3:30 PM
My neighbour moved her boundary fence onto my property last year, after asking her to remove it numerous times she refused. Her house is now up for sale. Can I make her move it back and am I in my right to advise potential buyers that there is a boundary dispute
Polly - 26-Apr-18 @ 1:51 PM
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